Friday, April 16, 2010

DVR-TiVo-Or whatever recording device strikes your fancy-alert!

I haven’t done one of these in quite some time (I believe the last one was back in January)…but then again, the number of times Turner Classic Movies has rolled out one- and two-reeler shorts that aren’t Pete Smith Specialties or Passing Parades has been very few. But this weekend, TCM is going to showcase some novelties that might be of interest to comedy short fans (like me).

No News Is Good News (1943) – Saturday, approx. 11:39am (after News Hounds [1947]) – It’s been my experience that there is really is no such animal as a bad Robert Benchley short; sure, some of the entries are a bit on the weak side but there’s always a bit of business to redeem them for fans. In this one-reeler, Mr. B answers “questions” sent in by the movie audience.

Radio Runaround (1943) – Saturday, approx. 11:41pm (after They Live by Night [1948]) and A Panic in the Parlor (1941) – early Sunday morning approx. 1:40am (after Roseanna McCoy [1949]) – I was genuinely surprised—well, more like positively gobsmacked—to see this pair of Leon Errol comedy shorts on TCM’s schedule; Errol was a tremendously popular comedian during the 1930s and 1940s with a successful series of two-reelers at R-K-O…and is unjustly forgotten today. I haven’t seen either of these shorts so I can’t comment on the quality—but I will issue this caveat: of the Errol shorts I have seen (many of which were available on the now OOP DVD Leon Errol Two-Reeler Comedy Collection) a lot of them work the Leon-appears-to-be-unfaithful-but-it’s-really-a-simple-misunderstanding plot to death. In Runaround, Leon forgets his wedding anniversary and the wacky complications ensue; Parlor finds Mrs. Errol (Virginia Vale) seeking to teach her hubby a lesson after he spends time partying in Tijuana. (It’s like a Bud Light commercial come to life…)

Maid in Hollywood (1934) – Sunday, approx. 7:40am (after Bitter Sweet [1940]) – This one I have seen; one of the best Thelma Todd-Patsy Kelly shorts. Patsy attempts to help Thelma with her screen test…and much hilarity ensues.

So You Want to Be on the Radio (1948) – Sunday, approx. 11:38am (after You Were Never Lovelier [1942]) – This Joe McDoakes one-reeler sounds like a dilly; Joe and the missus are crazy about entering radio show contests…but things seem to go awry every time they’re chosen as participants. (I need to get that Warner Archive Joe McDoakes collection!)

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1 comment:

Hal said...

Really glad to hear about the Leon Errol shorts. I have the DVD pictured, and it is a real shame that only one RKO collection has been released for Errol. Wish they would throw in some Edgar Kennedy while they're at it.

THE JITTERS (1938) is still one of the funniest comedy shorts I've ever seen.

The plots were repetitive, no doubt, but no more so than the MEXICAN SPITFIRE films, and Errol and Lupe Velez consistently made those watchable no matter how silly the plot was.